If you are a party to an action for dissolution of marriage or legal separation and own joint, common or community property, then you may wish to enter into a property settlement agreement which is sometimes referred to as a marital settlement agreement.
There is a rebuttable presumption that property or debt acquired during a marriage is community property or debt, meaning that both parties have an equitable interest in it. If property or debt is sole and separate, meaning that it was owned or owed before the marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage, that property or debt is almost always awarded to the party owning or owing the same.
A property settlement or marital settlement agreement is a written agreement signed and dated by both parties which sets forth an equitable division of the parties’ joint, common and community assets and debts. Assets may include real property, such as the former family home, or personal property, such as automobiles, furniture and other personal items acquired during the marriage. Debts include mortgages, automobile loans, personal lines of credit, credit cards and other obligations, whether secured or unsecured.
Property or marital settlement agreements often include legal decision-making and parenting time arrangements, as well as child support, spousal maintenance and other continuing obligations.
The property or marital settlement agreement is submitted to the court with the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation. Certain terms of these agreements may be merged into the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation, but other terms of these agreements may be incorporated, but not merged, into a decree so that they can be enforced separate and apart from the decree.
*The information contained in this message is general and should not substitute for the advice and counsel of a licensed attorney.